Rush Limbaugh‘s supporters and critics both claim victory a month after the radio talk-show host made incendiary comments about law student Sandra Fluke. Clear Channel’s Premiere Networks — which syndicates The Rush Limbaugh Show — says that advertisers are coming back. “Contrary to the wishful thinking of the professional special interest groups, reports of sponsors fleeing The Rush Limbaugh Show are grossly exaggerated,” the company says. “In fact, the program retains virtually all of its long-term sponsors who continue to have great success with The Rush Limbaugh Show.” Several advertisers wanted off after February 29: Many people said that Limbaugh crossed the line from acceptable commentary to unacceptable hate speech when he called Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute” following her testimony at a congressional meeting in favor of employer health plan coverage of contraceptives. He apologized for using the inflammatory words. Still, sponsors considered him so radioactive that Premiere ordered about 600 stations that carry his show to suspend national barter spots for two weeks. That period ended on Monday. Limbaugh’s defamatory comments about Fluke were “part of the normal day-to-day of talk radio,” Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman told the Associated Press this week.
Pittman’s long-time pal will lead the charge into television and live events as president of Clear Channel Entertainment Enterprises. Here’s the release:
NEW YORK– Clear Channel announced today that music, entertainment and media executive John Sykes will join the company in the newly created role of President, Clear Channel Entertainment Enterprises. He will report to Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman.
In his new position, Sykes will use the unparalleled assets of Clear Channel – including its 238 million monthly broadcast radio listeners, the 141 million people it reaches with Outdoor in the United States and the 374 million internationally, as well as the more than 75 million monthly listening hours for its digital properties – to develop new businesses for the company across a range of media, including television and live events, as well as create value for Clear Channel advertisers and key partners. Sykes’ new group will work closely with Clear Channel Media and Entertainment CEO John Hogan and his team as well as Clear Channel Outdoor, both in the United States and internationally.
Bob Pittman’s executive skills may be open for debate following his role in the AOL Time Warner debacle. But one thing’s for sure: He likes to think big, and bring PR sizzle to his businesses. The latest example? The CEO of Clear Channel Media Holdings just re-branded Clear Channel Radio — it’s now Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. The announcement follows the hot-ticket party for Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio that Pittman threw in Las Vegas at this week’s 2012 International CES.
Bob Pittman has always loved splashy events, and his planned two-day iHeartRadio Music Festival certainly qualifies. Clear Channel says it will stage “the biggest live concert festival in radio history” at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Sept 23-24, with Ryan Seacrest hosting hitmakers including Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Steven Tyler, The Black Eyed Peas, Kenny Chesney, Jennifer Lopez, Carrie Underwood, Usher and Sting. The goal is to “celebrate the launch of the New iHeartRadio,” Clear Channel’s online radio streaming service, with a festival that will reach “the largest combined U.S. radio and online audience ever,” says Pittman – a former MTV and AOL Time Warner honcho who’s now the No. 1 radio company’s chairman of media and entertainment platforms. The event, he adds, ”underscores Clear Channel’s transformation to a dynamic integrated media and entertainment company with an unmatched reach in the U.S.” Video and audio streams will be accessible at iHeartRadio.com and at all websites for Clear Channel’s radio stations. The New iHeartRadio will offer broadcast radio stations as well as Pandora-like free, customized services that will have no commercials at least to the end of this year. Seacrest calls the concert “a once-in-a-generation gathering of artists and fans from all over the country.” Tickets to the live event will go on sale July 16.
Pop culture publisher GeekChicDaily has just made a strategic transaction with Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures, and is closing on an investment round led by Revolution Studios Founder Joe Roth and Seattle investor and internet pioneer Mike Slade. New investors include Gamespy founder Mark Surfas, Legendary Digital President Kathy Vrabeck, who is leaving that post at the end of the month, and Machinima Chairman/CEO Allen DeBevoise. Existing investor and Clear Channel Chairman of Media and Entertainment Robert Pittman and his partner Andrew Russell will also join the round. Proceeds will beef up the daily publication that focuses on comics, vidgames, film, TV, toys and collectibles. GeekChicDaily was launched in late 2009 by Peter Levin and Gareb Shamus with initial investors that included Pittman and former Sony Pictures Entertainment head and current Mandalay Entertainment boss Peter Guber.